Obama, Mexico’s Pena Nieto discuss U.S.-Mexico relationship
The presidents of the United States and Mexico agreed to “take steps to solidify the relationship and institutionalize mechanisms of cooperation,” the White House said.
Obama departs Monday on the weeklong trip. Before leaving, Obama planned to face reporters at an afternoon White House news conference certain to be dominated by questions about the election and its consequences for U.S. policy and Obama’s own legacy.
Obama’s trip, planned when it seemed certain Hillary Clinton would win, had been designed to reassure the world that the U.S. had regained its footing after a toxic campaign that unnerved foreign capitals, noted Heather Conley, a Europe scholar at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“Now the president has the unenviable task of telling his counterparts and explaining what Europeans are now coining ‘the Trump effect,'” Conley said.
For months, Obama lent credence to those concerns as he urged Americans to reject Trump. Standing alongside Singapore’s prime minister in August, Obama said Trump was “woefully unprepared” because he lacked “basic knowledge” about critical issues in Europe, Asia and the Mideast. And during a visit to Japan, Obama said world leaders were rightfully “rattled” by Trump.
Now, Obama must reassure the U.S. and other countries that somehow, it will all be OK.
Obama started the reassurance before he left. On Monday, he spoke with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to express his “how much the United States values and depends upon its relationship and collaboration with Mexico,” according to a White House statement on the phone call. The language was a striking contrast to Trump’s campaign promise to force Mexico to pay for a wall along the border.